Mark Hammond, the Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘EHRC’), has said that discrimination against women who have chosen to have children ‘needs to be tackled’.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the current workplace some women are discriminated against because they have chosen to have children. This discrimination can either be whilst they are on maternity leave or during their return to work. However the evidence into pregnancy discrimination is somewhat out of date as the most recent evidence was from 2005.
Therefore the EHRC are to undertake a comprehensive research investigation into pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace which is to be funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The purpose of the investigation is to enable the Government to ‘shape the most appropriate response’ to the findings. Mark Hammond, has said that they ‘will look at existing research, gather new evidence and carry out our expert analysis to establish the extent of the problem and advise on how best it can be addressed.’
As part of the investigation the EHRC will look at employer’s practices towards employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave. They will also speak to employees to find out about their experiences in the workplace in order to ascertain the extent, causes and effects of pregnancy and maternity discriminating.
The EHRC have said that education for both employers and employees nationally will be key to tackling the issue of pregnancy and maternity discrimination and as part of their review the EHRC will assess how best to raise awareness of pregnancy and maternity rights.